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The Morning Column: February 16, 2022
Wednesday’s parade in downtown Los Angeles provides an opportunity for the Rams to align themselves with the Lakers and Dodgers; the two most popular teams in the city. Will they take advantage of it?
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In the world of professional wrestling, it’s called “the rub.” That’s when a more popular wrestler is paired with a new or less popular wrestler in order to help them “get over” and reach a new level of fame.
Wednesday’s parade and rally in downtown Los Angeles provides an opportunity for the Rams to get that rub from the two most popular teams in the city – the Lakers and Dodgers.
It’s a once in a lifetime moment for a team that already enjoyed a once in a lifetime journey to winning the NFC Championship and Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium in the first season they opened up their new $5.5 billion home to fans.
The Rams moved back to Los Angeles just six years ago. They’re still trying to win over a market that didn’t have an NFL team for 21 years. No one under the age of 40 grew up a Los Angeles Rams fan or remembers them playing in the city. The Rams left Los Angeles in 1980 for Anaheim and left Southern California altogether after the 1994 season. They were in St. Louis from 1995-2016. Anyone born after the 1980s associated the Rams with the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Blues.
They have the ability now to be associated with the Lakers and Dodgers and a part of L.A. being this decade’s city of champions. Over the past eight years, Los Angeles has won a championship in all six major North American professional sports leagues.
After the Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, to win Super Bowl LVI, LeBron James, Mookie Betts and Justin Turner took to Twitter and suggested Los Angeles should have a mega parade to celebrate the Rams, Lakers and Dodgers winning championships over the past 16 months.
Many have pushed back on this idea and said Wednesday’s parade down Figueroa and rally in front of the Coliseum should be a day and a moment just for the Rams. But the truth is, Wednesday isn’t really for the Rams. They had their moment on the field after the Super Bowl in front of 70,000 fans and into the wee hours of the morning at their VIP afterparty at the Hawthorne Hangar. They will continue to have many memorable moments when they go to the White House, get their championship rings and watch the first championship banner raised at SoFi Stadium.
No, Wednesday is for the fans and for Los Angeles. It is the one moment where fans don’t have to pay $5,000 for a Super Bowl ticket or know someone who can get them into a VIP party in order to celebrate the city’s first Super Bowl in nearly four decades. COVID-19 deprived the city of having a mega parade when the Lakers and Dodgers won their championships about two weeks apart in October 2020. At the time, city and team officials said there would be a celebration when it was safe to have one.
It’s finally safe to have one. California’s mask mandate was officially lifted at midnight on Wednesday as we finally seem ready to transition COVID-19 from pandemic to endemic where we will learn to live with it like the seasonal flu. Even if you’re not a Rams fan, Wednesday’s parade and rally seems like the perfect excuse to celebrate this milestone after everything we’ve been through the past two years.
It represents a once in a lifetime moment for the Rams because they will never again have the chance to align themselves alongside the Lakers and Dodgers as champions like this again. The time has obviously passed for the Lakers and Dodgers to throw a joint parade for themselves this month now that it is safe to do so 16 months later but the time is perfect for them to be included in the Rams’ celebration in a moment that would be a win, win, win (apologies to DJ Khaled) for all three franchises. Even if all three teams win in the same calendar year in the future, there would never be the opportunity for a joint moment like this as the Rams would celebrate their championship in February, the Lakers in June and the Dodgers in October.
This wouldn’t be a three-team mega parade. Several key players from the Lakers and Dodgers are no longer here. The Lakers and Dodgers would just be making a cameo appearance and giving Los Angeles sports fans a moment they never got 16 months ago and giving the Rams a much-needed sign of approval from the city’s most popular teams and players. Imagine LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and Talen Horton-Tucker showing up at the end of the championship rally at the Coliseum with the Larry O’Brien Trophy followed by Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger showing up with the Commissioner’s Trophy. It would make for a priceless photo and moment not only for Los Angeles sports fans but for the Rams as they try to once again establish themselves as one of L.A.’s most beloved sports teams.